Please & Thank You

 Please and Thank You.

The other day Theo and I were driving in the car, and a song came on the radio; it was “Fill my Cup” by Andrew Ripp, and he asked, “Why the singer didn’t say ‘please’ when he asked God to fill his cup?” for being a 4-year-old he makes a good point. And I stopped and realized how wise this is. That got me thinking, “Why don’t we say ‘Please’ when we make requests of God?” I started reflecting on my prayers and thoughts toward God and how I don’t even use common courtesy in my appeals when I pray to God. I ignore even the most basic manners and niceties required of my children when I speak to our Heavenly Father. ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you, are simple ways to soften the request and be polite and respectful. It places the petitioner in a position of humility and changes the tone of the prayer.

Meanwhile, we whine and demand like bratty, ungrateful offspring. We call out to God without ever giving a second thought to the nature of our asking, let alone the content of our request. As a result, our prayers are not only self-centered, but they carry a feeling of entitlement, reminding me of the timeless passage in James.     

James 4:2-3 “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Everything in this passage points toward self-centered attitudes. It is all about desires, covetousness, and personal pleasures. In this passage, we see the first concern is that we attempt to solve our problems independently without asking God. Then when we finally ask, our hearts aren’t in the right place. Perhaps our motives will begin to align if we approach God with a polite, respectful, and reverent attitude.

It is not as though God doesn’t want us to ask. He is ultimately good and wants to give us good things… but what we ask for is not often of the highest caliber.

Luke 11:11-13 “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

We should note the contrast that Jesus uses in this passage. Jesus plainly states that we can give ‘good’ gifts even though we are evil. God can provide even more perfectly than we can even attempt. Jesus then clarifies that the best and highest gift is the Holy Spirit. Signaling requests pertaining to the spiritual nature are better than a request of the physical variety.

Let’s change our attitude toward asking God. First, let us humbly and respectfully approach Him, even using words like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you. And then let us make sure we are placing a value on our spiritual concerns and not only on our physical dilemmas. Finally, let us take note of how our prayers change by adjusting these two areas when we talk to God.

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